Email copy due no later than noon on Tuesday; in addition bring two hard copies to class with you.
1. Write an essay of at least 1200 words [roughly four double spaced pages] in which you present your own critique/analysis of the ideas and arguments of E.D. Hirsch. 1200 words is the minimum length requirement. There is no maximum limit; if your ideas require more than four pages you can make your essay as long as you need to.
2. Your essay should be – as Graff and Birkenstein point out – your input into an ongoing conversation about some of the many issues related to education. One of your main jobs will be to introduce to your reader what this conversation has been about – which is to say, to define these issues and summarize some of the things that have already been said [or that are commonly believed] about them. In doing that you need to consider the views of two or more of the following writers: Gatto, Mann, Hirsch, Deresiewicz, Menand, but you’re welcome to introduce into your discussion any other writers – or the voices of non-writers, including your classmates – whose ideas can help you define the issues or explain your own position.
In citing your sources you have to make sure that your reader can always identify exactly where some idea or quotation comes from, but for this draft you don’t have to worry about formal rules of citation.
3. The issues that we’ve been looking at are multiple and complicated. In trying to sort them out you may find it helpful to use some of the binary oppositions we’ve talked about. For example, you may want to consider whether Hirsch [or Mann, or Gatto] is talking about education as an end in itself or as a tool for achieving some other goal, or where he stands on the difference between knowing and understanding.
4. As G & B point out, an essay is an argument; that is to say, it’s not a presentation of information [showing the reader how much you know] but the deployment of carefully selected information, along with explanation, analysis, and evidence, in order to make a point, raise a question, or reveal some problem. As a result an essay is always strategic – a sequence of moves. At every point in the essay you’re not only saying something, you’re also doing something: arguing, demonstrating, supporting, explaining, conceding, summarizing, etc. The templates offered by G & B are enormously helpful tools for indicating what moves you’re making. I urge you to use them whenever possible – but keep in mind that there are many other ways of indicating your moves that are not in the book, and you should feel free to use them as well. However you do it, it’s essential that your reader be clear about what move you’re making, and you need to pay special attention to distinguishing your voice from the voices of others so your reader is always absolutely…